The Raspberry Pi Community

When Philip Colligan made my day!

The Raspberry Pi 5th birthday weekend was a fantastic event and really showed off the best that the community has to offer.

To run such a big event the Foundation called out to its biggest resource for help ….

The community pitched in and over the weekend nearly forty volunteers helped out across all areas of the event.

I ended up working in my favourite spot - on the stage helping organise the tech for the speakers and presenters. I also got to run a workshop and take part in a panel discussion.

A special moment of the weekend for me had to be when Philip Colligan called me onto stage during his keynote presentation.

Sadly, I seem to work in a school where praise is very thin on the ground. We definitely praise the students lots and reward their achievements but very rarely say well done to the staff.

A huge number of people contribute so much to the work of the Foundation and we do it for many reasons.

At the heart of it for me is a passion to share this technology and to use it to enrich the lives of young people I work with and run workshops for. We definitely don't do it for fame, awards or accolades.

As Philip rightly said, for every one of me there are another 30 doing an amazing and awesome job out there in the community.

So thank you Phil for your kind words to me, but also for really valuing our community!


Watch the entire video below.


The Marauder's Clock


I took inspiration from the Wizarding World of Harry Potter for this project build as it combines two of my favourite visual elements from the films, The Weasley's clock and The Marauder's Map. I have called this mashup The Marauder's Clock!


(Photos taken of the original props at the Harry Potter back stage studio tour)

The aim of the project was to build a clock containing the visual elements of both items. To achieve the authentic 'who is at home detection' I used a Raspberry Pi reading WIFI devices. The MAC addresses collected by the Pi were checked against a known list for myself and Philip and used to control the home / away hands on the clock face. I used an Arduino Uno to control the servos and LEDs on the clock face.

There are several different ways that you can connect a Raspberry Pi and Arduino together to share data, you can use USB or make a serial connection. I decided that I would go for a more hardware based approach and used a bank of 3 relays and a Pimoroni Explorer hat to connect the two. I showed a friend the project and he was curious as to why I would use relays for data transfer but another aspect of the project was to use it as a demonstration of data communications between two computers at school. In effect I have built a very simple parallel interface.

The Arduino build:

The Arduino has two servos attached and 4 LEDs. The left hand servo is a positional rotational servo and is used to indicate if the person is home or away. The right hand servo is a full continuous rotation servo and is used to mock up a minute hand which moves every second. I decided that I was going more for visual appeal so the hand moves more than 6 degrees each second.

I use three digital input connections on the Arduino which wait for a switch to be closed. These are activated by 5V relays powered by the Raspberry Pi. The first input checks the status of my mobile phone, the second my sons mobile and thirdly the status of the home internet.

I have used a simple repeating loop to:

Move the second hand for 30 seconds.
Check the status of digital input 1 (my phone) and move the home / away hand accordingly
Move the second hand for 30 seconds
Check the status of digital input 2 (my son's phone) and move the home / away hand accordingly
Move the second hand for 30 seconds
Check the status of digital input 3 (virgin broadband) and move the home / away hand accordingly

The Raspberry Pi build:

The Raspberry Pi zero has a Pimoroni Explorer hat attached which is used to power the 5V relays. The digital output pins on the hat are really just a controllable path to ground and don't actually produce any power which comes from the 5V power out. Using the 5V and these digital 'outputs' I am able to control the power to the relays and subsequently the signal sent to the Arduino.

The Raspberry Pi code is essentially very straight forward. I scan the network with arp-scan and look for two specific devices in the output. Depending on their presence I switch on the output to the various relays.

Building the case

The case is actually a satsuma crate from Tesco which I covered in an shop replica Marauder's map. A 12V power supply is used for the Arduino and the Pi is powered separately. I found that powering the relays and the WIFI was too power heavy to power the Pi off the Arduino, although I might refine that in the future.


Raspberry Pi Pokedex

Over the last few weeks I have seen my Philip age 12 really engage for the first time in a digital making project and see it through to completion.

Philip is a year 7 student from Birmingham, my son and an all-round really great kid!


Quite a few people have asked me which bits I did and which bits were his. Essentially I paid for the components and took him to the marker space to laser cut the case and the rest is his!

A very quick video of Philip (age 12) @raspberrypifoundation powered #pokemon #pokedex

A video posted by MrUkTechReviews (@uktechreviews) on

Over the six weeks school holidays Philip designed, built and programmed a Raspberry Pi powered Pokedex. A Pokedex is an electronic device for storing your Pokemon information in.

His project has two main functions.

- A directory of over 200 Pokemon photos which you recall by typing in their unique Pokemon number.
- A Pokemon Go style function which takes a photo with the Pi camera and then overlays a Pikachu with a transparent background.

The key components used in the construction:

- Raspberry Pi model A+
- An old car reversing monitor for the main display (composite output from the Pi)
- A Nokia 5110 phone screen for additional information
- A 4x4 membrane keypad
- A Raspberry Pi camera

The final project can be found here

The main code is you will also need the libraries for the Nokia display and the keypad. You will also need to set the video output to composite.


Philip did a fantastic job of speaking about his Pokedex at the Cambridge Raspberry Jam in September 2016. He is such a shy boy so I was very proud to hear him speak.


Here is a video of Philip speaking about this project.



My first touchscreen project: The DeskMate2000

I bought a Raspberry Pi touchscreen earlier this year and decided I wanted to build another touchscreen device based on the Internet Streaming Radio player project.

Around this time I was starting to think about home automation and the possibility of using the Pi for home security.

deskmate 2000 - 1

Raspberry Pi A+ in the porch streaming live video to the touchscreen Pi in my office over WIFI.

deskmate2000 - 2

Live video feed from the Pi A+. The camera makes a single network connection to the desk Pi to add an extra dimension of security.

deskmate2000 - 3

Status information about the pi

deskmate2000 - 4

Weather information

deskmate2000 - 5

Error message if the feed from the security camera is lost

deskmate2000 - 6

Play list information for the Internet radio.

The first four buttons control two energenie sockets.

The code for the project can be found here


One giant leap for Pi-kind

What makes you stay up late on a school night in December?

Tonight I was glued to my monitor watching NASA tv waiting for the launch of the Altlas 5 rocket taking Astro Pi to the ISS.

Sadly due to the bad weather over Kennedy Space Centre the launch was scrubbed until tomorrow.

AstroPi is a great project and as a school really enjoyed taking part in it.

Read my thoughts and reflections on the project here.





It was great watching the launch of Tim Peake a week or so later at school with my class.


My year of Pi - Guest Blog

My Year with the Raspberry Pi

I released my first website eight years ago at the age of six. It was a website dedicated to the latest news from the children's site 'Club Penguin'. Back then, the chance of me owning my own robot was as low as the chance NASA has of landing on Jupiter. By that, I mean it was basically impossible. Now at the age of fourteen, I own two. This is all thanks to the Raspberry Pi, a credit card sized computer. I heard about the Pi in November 2014, when my computer science teacher posted about MinecraftPi on our school VLE. I'm a massive fan of the game, so having the pi associated to it led me to research the device until I eventually received the original model B with an awesome rainbow PiBow for my birthday in February. As a result of this, I've had an amazing school year in the field of computer science. In May, I attended the Southend Raspberry Jam, which was a really awesome day as I spoke about my school's Astro Pi entry with another girl named Marian, who is also pi crazy! We met loads of people who worked as programmers and developers which inspired me to keep learning and creating. However, my experiences with the pi have not been all about software. The strangest thing is that now, I'm not 100% sure whether I want to be a hardware or software developer! Through the pi, I have learnt the skill of soldering by connecting GPIO headers to new components, and when soldering motor controller boards. I've also been to the first Southend Fablab which is an event all about 3D printing. This led me to buy a Vellemen 3D printer of my own, and it was great fun to put together! However, the most amazing part of owning and programming with the Raspberry Pi is the community of makers that comes with it. As a result of this massive community, I have met loads of inspiring people, and those I haven't have spoken to me via twitter (such as Spencer who runs this fine blog). Whilst I've taken a load of inspiration, it makes me really proud to say that I have started inspiring others by teaching year 7 and 9 classes at my school. The main topic is MinecraftPi, which is really good for an introduction to Python, which we use for GCSE so I suppose it creates an early interest, which will hopefully persuade more year sevens to choose computer science for their GCSEs.In the future, I hope to collaborate the BBC Microbit with the pi and run a club for the new intake so the Microbit isn't something that they forget to bring to lessons, and eventually gets hoovered up in year 8. Thanks for reading this, and I hope to meet more of the pi community in September, where I will be speaking about MinecraftPi at the Cambridge Raspberry Jam.



Yasmin Bey Young Programmer / Enderman Slayer


Retrogaming Pi

RetroPi Gaming Machine project tutorial


Build your own retro-gaming console with this simple guide.

equipment needed

Raspberry Pi model 2
Coupe style Raspberry Pi case
TFT car reversing monitor
12V power supply (or similar for TFT)
Game controller (eg. Xbox360 wired controller)
Game ROMs (which you must own)
RetroPi SD card image
Table lamp switch
Camcorder style connecting cable

Step 1:

Chose your display. There are several different TFT models available and for this build you will not need a high definition display. A cheap 480p display will have a good enough resolution to play the games. Before you start the build it is worth checking that the display connects properly to the Raspberry Pi. At this stage I am still using the Noobs SD card image. Depending on the type of composite cable, you may need to switch around the left audio channel and video. Remember not to have the HDMI cable connected when booting up. If you have issues connecting to the composite output you may find this information useful on editing config.txt from the Raspberry Pi website. Once you have the screen working you may think that the resolution looks too low. Don’t panic - once it is running retro games it will not be an issue.

Step 2:

Carefully dismantle the display from the case, taking care to preserve all the cables and connectors. This is the scariest part of the build and great care should be taken not to put extra pressure on the screen.

TFT screen

Step 3:

Decide on a suitable length of cables and carefully chop off the connectors. You will need to solder the (correct) video connector from the camcorder lead to either the AV1 or AV2 cable. I have left the other other AV input connector attached to the monitor as it provides a secondary input if ever needed. Connect the switch to the power supply and solder the power cables to the power cables on the monitor. There are various types of monitor and connectors available so I have not included any photos of mine. You will still have two left and right channel audio cables coming from the camcorder cable. It is my intention to add a powered speaker to the project and will add more details later.

Step 4:

Design your case. You could use a perspex frame or find a dead retro console on eBay and gut it.

Step 5:

Assemble your case.




Step 6

Download the retro-Pi SD card image and prepare a new SD card. The download and full instructions can be found here.

Step 7

Plug in your controller and configure. Full details can be found here.

Step 8

If you own any game ROMs copy them onto RetroPi. Full details can be found here.

A note about copyright:

You must physically own the game ROMS you wish to install onto a retropi machine.

Post photos of your creations in the comments section.


My reflections on Astro-Pi competition

Today we submitted our entry for the Astro-Pi competition in the year 7 and 8 age group.

It has been an interesting few weeks working on our project with my students.


After a slow start we got our hands on the Astro-Pi board and instantly loved it. We liked the sensors and the ease at which you could get information. We really liked to simplicity of the LED matrix and how easily you could display messages and create pictures and logos.

We decided on a project brief: Do Chemical reactions happen the same in space? We had the idea of using a glow stick to represent the chemical reaction and use the Pi to record both data and photos of the glow stick changing colour.

If I am honest I am sure that there will be many more worthy entries in the age group, but we are ok with that. We don’t teach CS at school so all the programming knowledge and understanding has come from our Raspberry Pi club.

I feel that we have got lots out from the process (sounds like the Apprentice) and in this blog I want to sum up what it has meant to me as the teacher and to the students.

So I guess the first place to start is with the code:

During the project I produced some simple work cards that the students used to develop little nuggets of code which would be used in the final project. These included:

  • Displaying text and designing patterns on the LED maxtrix
  • Collecting data from the sensors
  • Using the Raspberry Pi camera and designing a time-lapse system
  • Writing data to a file and saving data

Alongside this the students also had a great opportunity to work together on the project.

  • Social skills - working together students from different year groups and different abilities
  • Team work - having a team leader and delegating different aspects of the project
  • Creatively thinking through a problem and working out solutions.

An obvious and very important consequence of the project was that the students talked about code, space and the ISS.

I am really pleased that we entered. The students now have lots of awesome ideas of things they want to try with the board as we move into the post-competition period.

I will post our projects code here in a few days time.


Build a hospital in Minecraft

During activities week at school the Science department are doing some work based around first aid. Wanting (obviously) to use a Raspberry Pi I am running Minecraft workshops for groups of 30 students.

The students will have to design, build and evaluate Red Cross Emergency hospitals in Minecraft.

To give the students a head start I have written a Python program to build the shell of their hospitals for them.

Build a #minecraft hospital on the #raspberrypi in seconds

A video posted by MrUkTechReviews (@uktechreviews) on Jul 6, 2015 at 9:00am PDT

The code is available here:


Astro Pi project update #1

Astro Pi Project update #1

Without giving too much away at this stage our entry for the Astro-Pi competition is progressing well. We have an idea, an experiment we can do in space. We just need some code.

Today we tried recording data from the sensors and putting them into a file.

For the last lesson of the day we recorded the temperature, humidity and pressure

sensor experiment sensor experiment results

We should have another update coming soon ....


Martin O'Hanlon vists Pi Club

We had a special visitor to KESH Academy Raspberry Pi club today.


We were treated to an end of half term visit from Martin O’Hanlon (co-author of Adventures in Minecraft) to our Raspberry Pi club. It was really exciting for the students to meet Martin and the feedback from the students was really positive.


We were excited to see a Astro Pi out in the wild and were lucky to see some of the really great things it can do. Martin’s integration of the Astro Pi with Minecraft was really exciting and the students loved seeing the effects of exploring the different sensors via Minecraft.


Last week at Pi club we had a look at the clock code from Adventures in Minecraft, but sadly due to my lack of reading instructions I had failed to download an additional library needed. It was great for the students to see it working properly on Martin’s Pi.


Thank you again Martin for this enjoyable hour!

For more information visit


Key words, Raspberry Pi and the Pipsta

Key words, Raspberry Pi and the Pipsta

I recently reviewed the Pipsta for the Raspberry Pi and have been thinking over the last week of creative ways that it can be used within the classroom.


Included with the Pipsta example code is a script for generating banners. I was immediately drawn to the idea of using these to generate key words to stick onto the white board or classroom wall.


Whilst this may seem a very simple tool to use it does have some real potential for the class teacher:

  • The only consumable is the paper, which is incredibly cheap to buy
  • There is no cutting out needed once the key words are printed
  • The print head and font size is very readable
  • The printed image should last between one and seven years depending on the quality of the paper and how it is handled.
  • The speed of printing is incredibly and can easily be done during a lesson

Combining this with the ability to SHH into the Raspberry Pi students could also print out their own key words during a lesson from their own computers.

Visit the Pipsta website here


Raspberry Pi in the theatre

If I only had a heart

I recently coordinated the ‘tech’ for the school production of “The Wizard of Oz” and was really keen to see if there was a use for the Raspberry Pi in either the special effects or as a prop.


I decided to use the Pimoroni Unicorn Hat with a raspberry pi model A+ to provide a glowing animated heart for the Tin Man.

IMG_0167 IMG_0162

The code was relatively simple and I used a simple list to assign the x,y and colour data for each pixel to be used.


To give the effect of the heart beating and pulsating I gradually changed the brightness of the pixels from about 30 - 80%. It was important not to go too bright as I could have blinded the audience or other cast members!

while True:
for bright in range (30,80):

This gave a very passable beating effect which looked stunning on the stage. The Pi was powered with a portable battery pack and to make backstage life easier the code was activated from boot using crontab with.

@reboot sudo python /home/pi/Pimoroni/ &

The full code can be downloaded from the icon below.

Ocean Blue Downloads

Wizard of Oz heart


Raspberry Pi Model 2

Raspberry Pi model 2 announced today by the Raspberry Pi Foundation


Photo from Raspberry Pi website

It was a really exciting day today in the world of Raspberry Pi and I nearly missed it in the business of teaching today at school.

The specs look amazing and I really can’t wait to order one!

* 900 MHz quad-core ARM Cortex-A7 CPU
* 1GB memory

The news which seems to have been picked up on is that the new processor will run the full range of ARM GNU/Linux distributions as well as Microsoft Windows 10.

It is important to note that this is not going to be the desktop version of Windows 10 but a non-desktop version which you would use for embedded projects. The Raspberry Pi foundation will not be supporting Windows 10 Embedded so there will be no educational resources. This will also not replace the current OS.

windows website

With a processor benchmarked at running 6x faster and twice as much memory this is a real beast of a Pi (sorry for the expression) and I really can’t wait to get my hands on one.

Do you have one yet? Leave a comment below.


Protocam+ review







The ProtoCam+ is great little prototyping board for the Raspberry Pi model A+ and also fits nicely on the B+. Assembly is relatively simple (simply solder the extended GPIO header onto the board) and then you are read to prototype. In the photos above I soldered three jumbo LEDs to the board and then used short lengths of cable on the reverse.

Once the prototype has been built it is then a simple job of attaching the camera module to the board. In my example I have attached three LEDs to show the status of a time-lapse sequence.

Key features:

  • Camera is mounted as part of the large prototyping surface
  • Full access to the 40 GPIO pins
  • 0, 3V and 5V power rails
  • The camera mounts onto the rear of the board with the lens pushed through a hole
  • Covers the entire surface of the A+ Pi
  • Fils neatly onto the B+ Pi
  • Comes with a short 85mm camera cable which folds under the board neatly
  • Nearly 300 connections available in lines of 3 or 4

related posts

Averageman logo


Kickstarter page


Pi Certified Educator

Reflections on my first half term as a certified Raspberry Pi Educator

It has been nearly half a term since I attended the October 2014 Picademy at Cambridge. I am very proud of my Certified Educator badge, but as we know it is more than just having a badge.

certified-educator-blog SO

One of the phrases we often get at school is “So tell me about the impact”. This has got me thinking about what is the impact of my two days at Pi Towers?

Since October I have ...

  • Had 5 Friday Raspberry Pi club sessions
  • Worked with a local Primary school on getting started with Minecraft programming
  • Organised and led workshops at the Birmingham Raspberry Jam
  • Delivered a two hour Pi session with non-IT teachers at school
  • Delivered three hours of Pi Minecraft workshops at Covent Garden Raspberry Jam
  • Produced several more Raspberry Pi themed resources for school
  • Helped document the Cambridge Raspberry Jam Pi Wars event
  • Worked with the school engineering project on using the Pi as a timing system for modelling real world problems
  • Got to grips with GitHub and uploaded my various projects (thanks Ben Nuttall for the tuition)
  • Built a time lapse camera to use within Science lessons
  • Designed a program of outreach workshops for gifted and talented year 5 and 6 students
  • Started to develop links with the School of Education at Cambridge University
  • Worked out ways in which the Pi can be used to support a student’s D of E application
  • Built a Raspberry Pi powered Christmas tree for my classroom

Not bad really for a Chemistry teacher who loves the Pi!




We had a really great day at Cambridge yesterday at Pi Wars. I must say a really huge thank you to Mike and Tim for organising such a great experience and for everyone who entered a robot, showed a robot, exhibited and generally helped on the day.

The day was full of fun, games and challenges and it was really great to see all the effort and time which had gone into building and programming the robots.



The PiPiano

The PiPiano

Earlier this year I saw a young guy walking around CamJam with a very interesting looking add-on for the Raspberry Pi. Later I discovered that it was Zach and his Raspberry Pi PiPiano.

It is really great to see that he has already exceed his funding goal of £500 on Indiegogo and is currently up to around £800. If you want to support this great project check out the link here.

So what is the PiPiano?

Simply, it is an easy to use, educational, musical add-on board for the Raspberry Pi. The PiPiano has 13 buttons and 3 LEDs for information or timekeeping!

What can it be used for?

As well as using it as a Piano it can also be used an extensive controller with 13 buttons that has many practical uses.

I need some help?!

The kits can be purchased either unsoldered or for an extra couple of pounds pre soldered. They are expecting shipping in March 2015. Zach has also produced a comprehensive set of documentation here.

This is a great project to back and I thoroughly recommend it.

Covent Garden Raspberry Jam

Covent Garden Raspberry Jam Saturday 29th November 2014

To keep the Jam feeling lasting longer after the Birmingham Raspberry Jam on the 22nd November I am helping at the Covent Garden Raspberry Jam a week later on the 29th November.

Frank Thomas-Hockey who describes himself as “a Father and amateur hacker” is running a Jam at Covent Garden Dragon Hall Trust, 17 Stukeley St on Saturday, 29 November 2014 from 14:00 to 17:00.

It looks like I will be running my favourite introduction to Minecraft coding workshop.

If you would like a ticket then get them here!




I start this blog post whilst sat on the train from Cambridge to Birmingham New Street having just spent two fantastic days at the Raspberry Pi offices in Cambridge attending Picademy.

The last two days have been really inspirational and I feel really fortunate to have spent them with a really great bunch of people, some teachers, some from the Raspberry Pi education team and other just very willing helpers who came to support.

The free CPD is open to all teachers who want to know more about / get more use out of the Raspberry Pi in the classroom and beyond. Picademy is not just for IT teachers (after all I am a Chemistry teacher in my day job). Both days were really well organised and delivered and gave everyone an opportunity to learn new skills and use them in a practical context. I was also very fortunate to be able to help my team (team GPIO) as the lead learner on the table.


After the usual welcomes and introductions the first day was spent carrying out a number of practical hands-on workshops. We were each given a goodie bag on arrival which included:

  • Raspberry Pi model B+
  • The latest version of the NOOBS SD card
  • Rainbow Pi case
  • Noodle USB power-cable
  • A Raspberry Pi mug (I’ve wanted one of these for a while!!)
  • A copy of my teaching resource (10 Engaging Python Projects)

The workshops on the first day included:

  • An introduction into physical computing (connecting LEDs and switches to the GPIO)
  • An introduction into Minecraft API programming
  • Using the Pibrella (one of my favourite pieces of equipment)
  • Using the Raspberry Pi camera
  • An introduction to Sonic Pi (I love this piece of software)
  • Using the Raspberry Pi in the classroom - solutions for networking etc.

There were ample amounts of tea / coffee / cake and nice food for lunch.

At the end of the first day we had an opportunity to think about the project we would like to carry out the next day. With Halloween only a few days away there were lots of ideas of a very spooky nature! It was really great to work with people who really did not feel constrained about what they could do and achieve with the Pi.

The day ended with a really nice meal in a local restaurant. There was some really good discussions and sharing of ideas and experiences as we ate. The meal continued with drinks in a local bar (but I went home to bed!)

The second day started with a number of talks about the Raspberry Pi community and how people can get more involved after Picademy. I had an opportunity to share my experiences with attending Raspberry Jams and the forthcoming Birmingham Jam (22nd November). We were treated to an excellent follow-up talk about Sonic Pi and I am more convinced that this is something I want to make use of in my clubs.

The remainder of the day was spent working in small teams on our own projects. My group created a motion detector trick or treat bucket. I spent some time developing my skills with the Raspberry Pi camera, although I did’t quite get it to work the way I wanted it to,

A really good part of the second day was to get support from the engineers and technical people from the Foundation and the other helpers. I had been told the day before that Ben Nuttall was an expert with GitHub so I had a 20 minute personal tutorial! This was a really invaluable time and I was able to really get some good advice and modelling of how to use it effectively,

Following (a very funny!) show and tell session we were presented with our certificates and badges. I am very proud to be a certified Raspberry Pi Educator.

picademy3 picademy4


Year 5 and Minecraft

I had the pleasure today of delivering two Raspberry Pi Minecraft based workshops to students attending school as part of a Primary Engagement Day.




Many of the students were really big Minecraft fans so I was off to a great start. After the usual quick build challenge we moved into the first of our activities. None of the students had used Python before but very quickly realised that you have to type the code in exactly as it is on the sheet. The first task was completed quickly and students were displaying messages in Minecraft.

The second task (making Steve fly) was really enjoyed by the students and many were keen to see what happens if they send him off in different directions! It was really good to see how quickly the students picked up the tasks and were at one point showing the older prefects from school how to do things.

A very common theme I have noticed when talking to colleagues about the new Computing Curriculum is the need for students to starting coding at an early age and how daunting this is. Activities like today reinforce for me that students are really keen to do programming and want to push themselves to extend their knowledge and skills.


PiHut Raspberry Pi clearance sale

Are you looking for a Raspberry Pi bargain?

The guys over at The PiHut are having a Raspberry Pi clearance sale. Some really good prices including such bargains as:

Babbage Bear for only £4
Noobs Preinstalled SD card £4.80
Ada fruit PiTFT screen for only £24
Raspberry Pi T-Shirts for both adults and kids £6 / £5

Check out their great clearance prices here


Birmingham Raspberry Jam


We are really excited to announce that Birmingham Raspberry Jam will be back on November 22nd 2014. We will be using a new venue - King Edward VI Sheldon Heath Academy in East Birmingham.

This will be a family orientated Raspberry Pi day with a number of activities for people of all ages.

Tickets can be ordered here

Entrance is free for students and £2.50 for adults (payable on the door with a valid ticket).

The school has plenty of parking and is in a good location, not far from the A45 near Birmingham Airport.

We will be offering light refreshments (tea, coffee, biscuits and squash) throughout the day and there are many takeaway options locally.

If you have your own Raspberry Pi or project you would like to show we would love you to bring them along.

The day will include a number of short talks and hopefully a live linkup with Alan O’Donohoe at the Hull Raspberry Jam.

The final details for workshops will be made available nearer the date but we anticipate they will include:

* Getting started with a Raspberry Pi
* Minecraft programming for beginners
* More advanced Minecraft programming
* LEDs and flashing code

Any questions please contact the organisers here and clicking on the contact organiser link.


Alan is our digital hero

I was so pleased earlier to hear the news that Alan O’Donohoe has been awarded the great honour of Volunteer Digital Hero for his work with the Raspberry Pi and Raspberry Jam.

Alan is a really great bloke and has been inspirational in my own journey with the Raspberry Pi. Earlier this year I was going through a difficult time, feeling that what I was doing was of little value and use. After spending a very encouraging evening with Alan, I was able to see where I was going and what I needed to do in order to move forwards! For this Alan, I will be ever grateful.


I’m not sure why Alan is running away from Clive Beale?


I found Alan’s name badge!

For a list of all the digital heroes click here


Cam Jam September 2014

We had an amazing day at the Cambridge Raspberry Jam on 6th September and the organising team really should have a big pat on the back!

The theme this time was based around all things robots in preparation for the December Pi Wars event. There were a good range of talks and hands-on workshops again designed around this theme. I was very pleased to help out at three of the workshops and it was especially good to see the Ryanteck robot being used in one of them.

Philip had a really good time and said he enjoyed the workshops and being able to see all the fun things being done with robots.

I managed to spend £50 at the PiHut again on Raspberry Pi miscellaneous bits and pieces. We were just about to leave when Philip saw the tablet controlled robots from DawnRobotics. Somehow in the next 10 minutes he had persuaded me to splash out and buy a kit - which has now been made and is being developed!

There was a film crew form CNBC filming in Cambridge and we even made it onto the segment!

The Cambridge Jam is a great day out and a good way of meeting in real life all the people I spend so much time chatting to on Twitter. There is a real sense of community at CamJam and a very warm welcome is given to everyone old and young. It is testament to the team that I had Philip out of bed at 6am on a Saturday to make the drive down. Can’t wait for December!



I was recently sent a ProtoCam to review from Richard (AKA @AverageManVsPi).

This is currently a kickstarter project which is definitely well worth a look (and a second look!)

Picamera board

The ProtoCam board is a neat solution for creating Raspberry Pi projects using both the GPIO and camera. The PCB is manufactured in the UK to a very high standard and is made with nickel/gold plating.

Once soldered and assembled the board fits neatly onto the Raspberry Pi (model A / B) and the camera is securely attached via small nylon screws and nuts. The camera is connected to the Raspberry Pi by a short and firm belt which fits under the PCB next to the Raspberry Pi.

At the moment my camera is attached to my robot so I am debating if I should either order a new camera or dismantle it from my robot so I can fully test this.

Some possible uses of the board could include:

  • Adding LEDs to build a flash gun on the front of the camera
  • Adding switches to build a simple point and click camera control
  • Adding a segment display for a timer / photo counter

I think that this project has great potential so I would thoroughly recommend backing it

Back the project here

Did I also mention that this great project was selected as the Staff Pick at KickStarter?


MyPiFi LCD Board support for Raspberry Pi

It is great how many cool things for the Raspberry Pi are coming out through Kickstarter projects.

I would like to highlight the MyPiFi LCD board support for the Raspberry Pi which offers a quick and easy way to add an LCD board to your projects.

The Project has been started by Paul Brown from the UK also know as @mypifi on Twitter. His blog can be found here.


This is a great little device which allows you to easily and quickly change LCD boards attached to all models of the Raspberry Pi. This eliminates the worry of forgetting how each wire was connected.

The pledges start at £6 where you will get an LCD support board with one extended GPIO header, LCD socket and potentiometer kit. The kit needs assembling. For another £5 you get the same kit with 16x2 LCD display with blue backlight.

I look forward to trying one out and writing a more detailed review.

Go fund it today!


Adafruit tutorial

eskMate2000">Updated blog post: Home-automation with a touchscreen Pi

I had a very exciting email the other day asking if I would write up my Internet radio as a tutorial for the Adafruit learn website. Being a massive fan of Adafruit I was very happy to do this!

The tutorial can be found here

If you have not visited Adafruit or bought from them I can highly recommend their products. In addition to selling some really cool products they are committed to producing and sharing detailed instructions and product support. I have found the tutorials to be really well written and often preempt common problems and issues you may find.


Raspberry Pi Internet Radio Player

Tutorial: Raspberry Internet streaming radio

eskMate2000">Updated blog post: Home-automation with a touchscreen Pi

Latest video: Introducing the Hudl2 - budget Android tablet from Tesco

This project is based around the 2.8” touch screen from adafruit.

The full details of building and setting up the touch screen can be found on the adafruit website here. This must be done before trying to use the radio!

This project creates an internet streaming radio for the Raspberry Pi using the 2.8” touchscreen. This does not use the x interface and makes use of Pygame.

Raspberry Pi Radio

Step 1:

Set up the Adafruit TFT using the instructions provided by Adafruit. Make sure that all the steps are followed for calibration of the touch screen. There is no other control of the radio player other than the touch screen so if this is not done it won’t work!

Step 2:

Plug in a speaker or headphones into your audio jack. It took me nearly 5 minutes to work out my I was getting no sound when I hadn’t switched on my speakers!

Step 3:

If your Raspberry Pi is up to date you should already have the libraries for Pygame installed.

sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get upgrade

Step 4:

Install mpc and mpd and add some radio stations to your play list

sudo apt-get install mpd mpc

mpc add

mpc add

mpc add

mpc add

mpc add

mpc and internet radio stations are very well documented so I won’t go into too much detail here. The stations listed above are for BBC Radio stations in the UK.

If you want to save, edit and open your play list they are saved in /var/lib/mpd/playlists/

Step 5:

I have made the source code and icons I used available here.

I am not yet using github for my projects but hopefully will be soon!

Step 6:

Save the python program and all the icons into one folder. You should run the python program from within that folder.

sudo python


Play mpc play
Pause mpc stop
Refresh mpc stop followed by mpc play
Volume up mpc volume +10
Volume down mpc volume -10
Mute mpc volume 0
Previous station mpc prev
Next station mpc next

Each control is started with a command such as“mpc play”, shell=True)

The code still contains much debugging and developer information so you will see lots of additional comments in the console - sorry!

Have fun, let me know what you think.

Now you are ready to add more channels to you mpc player check out this tutorial.


Digital Photo Frame

Tutorial: Making a Raspberry Pi USB-stick Digital Photo frame

Pi photo frame

This tutorial is based around the 2.8” touch screen from adafruit.

The full details of building and setting up the touch screen can be found on the adafruit website here

The photo frame is powered by FBI (Frame Buffer Image Viewer) which can be installed using:

sudo apt-get install fbi

Rather than copying photos onto the Raspberry Pi I wanted to display photos from an attached USB memory stick.

Before you can attach and mount your USB stick check that you have a usb folder in /mnt

mkdir -p /mnt/usb

On your mac or PC format your USB stick as FAT32.
Make a folder called
Copy your photos into that folder as JPGs

If you are new to using USB from the command line you will need to insert the USB stick and then mount it.

sudo mount -t vfat /dev/sda1 /mnt/usb

You can simply check that your USB stick is attached by

cd /mnt/usb

This should display the contents of the USB drive.

We are now ready to start the slideshow.

sudo fbi -a -t 5 /dev/fb1 -noverbose /mnt/usb/Slideshow/*.jpg

To exit the slideshow simply press escape.

additional information

-a scales the photos to fit the screen (both scale up and scale down)
-t 5 sets a duration of 5 seconds for each photo
-noverbose turns off on-screen message
-u will display the photos in a random order

The man pages for FBI can be found here


Why am I passionate about the Raspberry Pi?

Over the last few days I have been thinking about how the last two years for me have been so heavily influenced by the Raspberry Pi.

If someone had said that I would be running a successful computer programming club at school, training other teachers in programming and hooked up to such a great community I would not have believed it.

The scary thing is that after all this work I am becoming more and more certain that I want to make the transition from Science / Chemistry teacher to Computer Science teacher.

I made this video to explain how my son got interested in programming and how the Raspberry Pi has influenced him.

I do feel very excited about the future especially now that we have so many young people interested in programming, tinkering and project making. I don’t believe that everyone is destined to become the next big programmer or app developer but I do believe the skills that are developed have a much wider benefit.

Here’s to a bright future!


Portable Raspberry Pi

Over the last week I have been working on a portable retro-gaming Raspberry Pi device. It all started when I bough the 2.8” touchscreen TFT from Adafruit. I have to admit that the self assembly soldering nearly gave me some sort of breakdown, but eventually it was up and running and attached to a new Pi bought especially for the job.

Initially I was very excited about the prospect of a portable battery powered Raspberry Pi (hence PortaPi). After the excitement had died down it was time to think about what it could be used for. After looking at the projects on Adafruit website I decided on a retro gaming device.

Portapi01 Portapi02Portapi06

After a bit of digging around I came across the Adafruit mini Raspberry Pi powered arcade cabinet (cupcade). Whilst I didn’t to go as far as building this project the ultra detailed instructions were really helpful in setting up the software. I decided at the start that I was going to use a USB game controller (e.g.. which was relatively inexpensive.

The SD card image installed easily and within a short period of time I was up and running. After a couple of google searches I found some MAME Roms to download and try.

The game emulation is carried out with AdvanceMAME which I initially had trouble setting up my gamepad until I spotted pressing the TAB key opened up a whole set of menus including custom configuration of keys.

Game selection is done through GAMERA (Game ROM aggregator) which isn’t very fancy but does do the job. At the point of writing this I am still using the USB wireless keyboard to operate GAMERA and the game controller for the game play. I have not yet found a way of controlling GAMERA with the game controller.

This is a fun little device to play with and being a child of the 1980s has brought back lots of great memories for me.


I am still trying to decide which case to build this around. I am currently thinking toward a retro Macintosh.

Thank you for using Amazon Associates links - a small percentage goes to the website


Ryanteck budget Raspberry Pi powered robot kit

Want to get into Raspberry Pi based robotics?

If the answer is yes then can I recommend to you the Budget Raspberry Pi Robot kit from Ryanteck. This is a great little kit which is relatively easy to assemble and priced extremely competitively at just under £30.

The kit I was sent to review contained:

The motor control kit (RKT-000-001)
The budget robot kit (RTK-000-003)

You do need to supply your own Raspberry Pi and means of powering the Pi.
You will also need soldering skills and equipment.

I must admit that I cheated and a kind colleague soldered the motor control board for me, but in hindsight I could have done it myself!

The robot kit was extremely simple to build and made a nice morning project.

The instructions were very detailed and included good product photos showing each step. The Raspberry Pi instructions for setting up wifi connectivity were simple to follow and the example code on github made programming it very easy.

This is a great product and also having met Ryan from Ryanteck I would definitely encourage you to try this kit out. Ryan is an awesome young man who is destined to do really great things. Check out the links for Ryan at the official Raspberry Pi website

Thank you for using Amazon Associates links - a small percentage goes to the website.



FUZE - A Raspberry Pi powered computer programming and electronics workstation

(PART 1)

I first saw the FUZE at the Education Innovation Conference in February of 2014 (In fact I am using their mouse mat at my desk right now!). At the time I was very impressed with the concept and fell in love with the design. The kit essentially does what it says on the box: “A Raspberry Pi powered computer programming and electronics workstation”

Before you go any further check out my YouTube unboxing and first look video:

Why did I fall instantly in love with it?

As a child of the 1980s I spent much of my time programming in BBC Basic on an Acorn Electron computer plugged into my parent's TV. Back in the day programs were saved onto C60 cassette tapes and I still remember with fondness the loading sound! The design is so reminiscent of this time that it brought back many happy memories.

The Acorn Electron first introduced in 1983

The idea of taking a Raspberry Pi and embedding it at the heart of a robust, school friendly computer works really well with the FUSE. As both a product reviewer and a teacher running a Raspberry Pi club I could easily see this being used in the classroom and during a club setting - but more about that later.

In the kit I was sent to review there was:

  • FUZE computer station
  • A mouse, power supply, SD card
  • A solder-less breadboard
  • User guide for FUSE BASIC
  • Electronics componets

In the electronics componet box there was:

  • Jumper cables
  • 7 segmented LED
  • Resistors
  • LDR
  • LEDs (Red, Yellow and Green)
  • Smaller jumper cables
  • Micro switches

FUZE unit

The FUZE is incredibly simple and quick to setup and within 5 minutes we were opening up FUZE Basic and writing our first program which obviously was “Hello World”. It was at this stage my 9 year old son who is very tech savvy and enjoys programming in Python wanted to get involved.

After a couple of hours of writing in Basic Philip was very excited about what he could do with the FUZE.

In summary:

  • If you are looking at introducing computer science / electronics into the curriculum and you lack specialist teachers and resources this would be an excellent place to start.

  • The workstations are extremely well constructed and I believe would survive well in a classroom / club situation. The all-in-one aspects would also make it an ideal candidate for clubs or groups where the Raspberry Pis have to be dismantled at the end of every session. I currently spend over an hour setting up and taking down every session.

  • FUZE basic clearly fits in well where students are now required to learn two programming languages (one textual). Whilst many people are dismissive of BASIC (after all it is basic!) it does offer students a good introduction into a textual language.

  • Incorporating electronics into the kit. This I feel was a moment of sheer brilliance. Including both the connectors and physical space for the breadboard at the top of the unit is excellent. It has been my experience that even the most careful of student, setting up their breadboard, connecting it to the Pi can easily find it all falling out and not working when the Pi is moved or touched.

  • The price point is very competitive for a school IT solution and I would love to buy one of these for home. Having been to many trade shows and educational events I often complain that a piece of technology is essentially a shiny box designed to help a school spend money, which then gathers dust on the shelf. Within a few minutes of unboxing the FUZE students can be engaged in programming and get the immediate rewards for their efforts. This is often impossible to do with school Mac or PC based solutions which will need much configuration before use on the network etc.

If you are looking and don’t know where to start down the journey of IT and CS in school - this is definitely a good starting point. I believe that this product has been developed with the end-user in mind. I know for one, that my son will be very sad when this has to go back to the PR company next week.

Part 2 will contain more information about using the breadboard and the electronics aspect of the kit.

UK TECH REVIEWS 5 Start rating for ease of use, value for money
and contribution to teaching and learning in the classroom

Thank you for using Amazon Associates links - a small percentage goes to the website


The CamJam EduKit

The CamJam EduKit - a must buy!


Want to start building simple input-output circuits for your Raspberry Pi but are not sure what components to buy?

This little starter kit contains:

a Breadboard
Red, Amber and Green LEDs
Switch (button)
Connector cables

The kit has to be assembled by the user (this is a good thing!) and will introduce you into the world of circuit building and programming with the Raspberry Pi.

Associated worksheets can be downloaded from

If you would like to buy one head over to the PiHut where they can be picked up for only a fiver (£5 including VAT).

If you need any other reasons to buy this great kit profits from this kit go to support CamJam with their educational and community out-reach work.

This comes very highly recommended by UK Tech Reviews and I will personally be using them next year when I deliver Raspberry Pi training.

Buy them here

PiHut banner


Raspberry Pi model B+

I was very excited to receive a package on Friday containing not 1 but 15 Raspberry Pi model B+. Over the summer holiday I will be upgrading my Raspberry Pi lab at school to use the new models.

I am not going to write a detailed blog post about all the differences between the B and B+ model as this has already been covered on other blogs and websites.

Key features of the new Pi (model B in brackets for comparison)

  • Broadcom BCM2835 SoC full HD multimedia applications processor (same for model B)
  • 512 MB SDRAM @ 400 MHz (same for model B)
  • MicroSD card for storage (SD card)
  • 4 USB ports (2 USB ports)
  • Power rating: 600mA up to 1.8A @ 5V (750mA up to 1.2A @ 5V for model B)
  • 40 GPIO pins (26 GPIO pins)

Some of the other key features include:

  • Composite RCA is now shared with audio
  • Smaller design
  • More GPIO pins

Check out our first look video below:

The LEDs are connected to pins 3,5 and 7 with a resistor connected to the cathode of each LED (short leg) connected to pins 17,20 and 25.

import time
import RPi.GPIO as GPIO
import random




list = [3,5,7]

while True:
light = random.choice(list)

Please leave any comments and suggestions below.


Second Pi GPIO project - traffic lights

Philip’s second GPIO project using the Raspberry Pi

After the success of our first project we wanted to try building the traffic lights detailed on the OCR resource sheet

After helping Philip solder the components onto a prototype circuit board we connected it up to the GPIO breakout board.

I showed Philip how to write the code to make one of the lights flash on and off. He was then challenged to find a way of making the three LEDs show the correct traffic light sequence.





In a similar way to the first project I was really pleased with the determination Philip showed in writing this simple piece of code.

import time
import RPi.GPIO as GPIO







First Pi GPIO project

Philip’s first project using the Raspberry Pi and the GPIO to control a LED.

This project is based on a recipe card available

After buying our second Pi last week we were keen to start a project with components connected to the GPIO.

flashing LED 1

The code is relatively simple and the circuit basically involves connected a LED with resistor to the Pi GPIO breakout board (available here)

Once we had the basic code written and circuit created I asked Philip if he could adapt the code to:

- select how many flashes the LED will do
- the ‘on’ duration
- the ‘off’ duration

With the final code written Philip was very keen to show us code and flashing LED.

In comparison to the world of GTA5 a flashing LED seems very dull - but this little exercise of building and coding was very well received!

The final code is included below:

import time
import RPi.GPIO as GPIO

print 'Welcome to the flashing LED program by Spencer and Philip'

print ' '
print ' '

print 'We first need to decide how many flashes we need'

flash = input('How many flashes would you like: ')

on = input ("how fast do you want the flashes to atay on in seconds ")

off = input ("how long do you want it to stay off for? ")

number = 0

for number in range (0, flash):



We have ordered a few more LEDs from CPC and are hoping to build traffic lights next weekend!


Running Android on the Pi

Video footage of Android running on the Raspberry Pi


First attempt at Android on Raspberry Pi

I had my first boot of an Android system on my Raspberry Pi on Friday. We have made many exciting uses of the Pi at home - programming, web use etc by running Android on the Pi (and therefore on the TV) would be a big step forward.

Back in July 2012 the first tentative mentions of Android running on the Pi were made.

Following the threads and links from Google I found these instructions at:

Step 1: Download an image (this was a compressed file) from

Step 2: Extract the image file.

Step 3: Create the image file to a SD card (minimum 2GB) using dd or image writer which can be found here

Step 4: Boot!

Running a simple time-trial it took approximately 30 second to launch an Android welcome screen and then approximately another 5 minutes before the user interface appeared. This sadly was too slow to be useable (at the moment).


Running RISC OS on the Pi

A short tutorial on running RISC OS on the Pi.

Link to image file used:
Link for Win32Disk image:

Raspberry Pi first game

This is my sons first game he wrote using the Raspberry Pi.


Raspberry Pi Internet Radio Player

Tutorial: Raspberry Internet streaming radio

eskMate2000">Updated blog post: Home-automation with a touchscreen Pi

Latest video: Introducing the Hudl2 - budget Android tablet from Tesco

This project is based around the 2.8” touch screen from adafruit.

The full details of building and setting up the touch screen can be found on the adafruit website here. This must be done before trying to use the radio!

This project creates an internet streaming radio for the Raspberry Pi using the 2.8” touchscreen. This does not use the x interface and makes use of Pygame.

Raspberry Pi Radio

Step 1:

Set up the Adafruit TFT using the instructions provided by Adafruit. Make sure that all the steps are followed for calibration of the touch screen. There is no other control of the radio player other than the touch screen so if this is not done it won’t work!

Step 2:

Plug in a speaker or headphones into your audio jack. It took me nearly 5 minutes to work out my I was getting no sound when I hadn’t switched on my speakers!

Step 3:

If your Raspberry Pi is up to date you should already have the libraries for Pygame installed.

sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get upgrade

Step 4:

Install mpc and mpd and add some radio stations to your play list

sudo apt-get install mpd mpc

mpc add

mpc add

mpc add

mpc add

mpc add

mpc and internet radio stations are very well documented so I won’t go into too much detail here. The stations listed above are for BBC Radio stations in the UK.

If you want to save, edit and open your play list they are saved in /var/lib/mpd/playlists/

Step 5:

I have made the source code and icons I used available here.

I am not yet using github for my projects but hopefully will be soon!

Step 6:

Save the python program and all the icons into one folder. You should run the python program from within that folder.

sudo python


Play mpc play
Pause mpc stop
Refresh mpc stop followed by mpc play
Volume up mpc volume +10
Volume down mpc volume -10
Mute mpc volume 0
Previous station mpc prev
Next station mpc next

Each control is started with a command such as“mpc play”, shell=True)

The code still contains much debugging and developer information so you will see lots of additional comments in the console - sorry!

Have fun, let me know what you think.

Now you are ready to add more channels to you mpc player check out this tutorial.